tv 60 Minutes CBS July 8, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
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captioning funded by cbs, and ford-- built for the road ahead. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org captioning funded by cbs and ford-- built for the road ahead. >> mike wallace: he was doing what? with you? why? why? why? hold it a minute. god damn it! >> kroft: tonight on "60 minutes"... ( applause ) >> kroft: ...celebrating mike wallace... >> wallace: sit down! all right. >> kroft: ...the master... >> wallace: i mean, you're a crook. >> kroft: ...of the tv interview. >> wallace: what the dickens are your doing? who wants to kill you? it's almost an embarrassment, sir, to hear this from you. >> yasir arafat: me?
>> wallace: yes, you. >> kroft: the list of his subjects reads like a who's who of the past half century. >> make a noise. >> a-ruch. >> you must be good to me. >> wallace: why would i be otherwise? >> come on, mike. >> kroft: smooth as cary grant... >> wallace: come on out. >> kroft: ...ferocious... >> wallace: you don't want to talk to me? >> kroft: ...as a junkyard dog. >> you're going to get over here, mike. you want to just get right over here. >> you're contemptible. >> i think you should keep quiet. ( door slams ) >> wallace: come on, come on, oh, come on. >> you like this that 40 million people have to see me do this. >> kroft: tonight, "60 minutes" looks back on the life and the times of mike wallace. >> wallace: i'm mike wallace. my name is mike wallace. i'm mike wallace. i'm mike wallace. jerry, we've gotta talk. not a good time right now, guys. not a good time? you sit down here all day shooting goblins. try zombies. i mean look at your food, jerry. nuggets? they're kfc bites, dad. mmm, real chicken. that's right. honey, let's leave this man to his business.
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>> kroft: tonight, we remember mike wallace, one of the founders of this broadcast and its most public face, who died in april at the age of 93. for 40 years, it was the sound of the stopwatch and mike's voice that signaled the start of another edition of "60 minutes." that voice has been silenced, but he was one of the true giants of television. his reporting style and interviewing technique influenced generations of journalists and set the style and the tone of this program. what better way to honor and remember mike than to look back
at some of the highlights of his extraordinary career? >> wallace: he was doing what? with you. why? why? why? really. when you boil it down to low gravy... you demanded special treatment. you needed money. it's almost an embarrassment, sir, to hear this from you. what? what did they want you to do? what is it? >> kroft: i sat down with mike in the spring of 2006 on the occasion of his semi-retirement from "60 minutes." in the studio where the show is put together every week, we watched some notable people get put through the "mike wallace meat grinder." >> wallace: wait, wait, wait. what are you saying? >> kroft: for instance, there he was with vladimir putin who, at the time, was the president of russia. but it's clear from this interview that mike was the one in charge. >> wallace: corruption is every place in russia. agreed? why? to get anything done-- money. >> kroft: i've never seen the situation or seen an interview that you did not dominate, in
terms of personality, in terms of force of personality. >> wallace: that's very flattering, i guess, but... but... >> kroft: how do you do it? >> wallace: i'm nosy and insistent and not to be pushed aside. >> kroft: and confident. >> wallace: confident in the material that i have and the questions that i have. confident that, when i ask a question, there's a reason for it's being asked, that i have the specifics in research to warrant the asking of a question. it's not a question picked out of the air. you are the last major communist dictatorship in the world. >> kroft: mike was always an equal opportunity offender. here with jiang zemin, then president of china. >> wallace: am i wrong? >> jiang zemin: of course. this is a big mistake. >> wallace: you are. >> zemin: very frank speaking, i don't agree with your point, "i'm dictator." >> wallace: i know you don't.
i know that you don't. but there's an old american phrase about it that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and so forth, it's a duck. >> kroft: to me, that's a classic mike wallace interrogation. >> wallace: father knows best. >> kroft: he said very little, except react. and you could tell a lot from the reaction. >> wallace: if you get in the way of father, father will take care of you. >> kroft: that kind of audacity is something that mike perfected long before "60 minutes." >> wallace: really? >> kroft: it began 50 years ago, with a local new york interview show called "night beat." >> wallace: good evening. i'm mike wallace. the show is "night beat." up to "night beat," i was utterly anonymous. "night beat" was the one. what do you know about that? who in the united states is qualified? what kind of people are your friends? >> kroft: "night beat" and the spin-offs mike did for abc revolutionized tv talk. here he is with another mike, labor leader mike quill. >> wallace: what about this statement that you made in your own paper?
we were doing the kind of show that had never been done before. nasty questions, abrasive questions, confrontational questions. >> mike quill: you have no right to sit in judgment of me. >> wallace: i'm not sitting in judgment, i'm simply asking a question. >> quill: i'm ready any time you want to repeat the stupid question. >> kroft: the similarities with "60 minutes" are striking. mobster mickey cohen with mike in 1957. >> wallace: you've killed at least one man, or how many more? >> mickey cohen: well... >> wallace: how many more, mickey? >> cohen: i have killed no men that, in the first place, didn't deserve killing. >> kroft: mobster jimmy fratianno on "60 minutes" in 1981. >> wallace: jimmy, who was the first person you killed? >> jimmy fratianno: frankie niccoli. >> wallace: where'd you kill him? >> fratianno: in my house. >> wallace: how'd you kill him? >> fratianno: we strangled him. but i think it would bother me if i killed an innocent person. >> wallace: what do you mean by innocent person? >> fratianno: well, you're an innocent person. >> wallace: i'm glad to hear
you... you don't have designs. >> fratianno: i mean, somebody innocent, you know. >> wallace: they're fascinating characters, aren't they? >> kroft: yes. do you like doing mafia guys? >> wallace: of course. >> kroft: never felt scared? >> wallace: i'm a pro. what happens is you try to establish, or i do, a kind of chemistry of confidentiality. >> kroft: even though there are cameras running? >> wallace: yeah! and you can. after a while, the interviewee is so persuaded that you've done a lot of work and that you know a lot about him or her, and he says, "look, i'm here. i'm going to be asked some questions, so why don't we look at each other and talk to each other." and that... and all of a sudden, you can see they forget the cameras, they forget the lights, and they begin to answer accurately and, in a strange way, comfortably. come on out.
you don't want to talk to me? >> kroft: he also went, with great relish, after small-time crooks, cons and miscreants of all sorts. >> wallace: i don't understand. they must be ashamed of something. why are you so reluctant? why are you so reluctant? >> you want to get over here, mike. you want to just get right over here. >> kroft: you got roughed up a little bit there. >> wallace: a little bit, yeah. he just didn't want to answer the question. >> kroft: mm-hmm. >> wallace: father, i want to read you some things. >> kroft: i mean, you ride up like the lone ranger saving the day. >> wallace: she lost her virginity that day. now why would she say that about you, father kirsch, if it were not so? and the audience obviously just loved it. how are you, sir? >> what is this? >> wallace: this is "60 minutes." >> wow. >> wallace: here was a reporter who was willing to go in and make a damn fool of himself sometimes. no, i have no intention of leaving until you tell me what's on your mind. we gave you $40, you gave us... >> kroft: porn peddlers, scammers, confidence men. >> i don't know, he put over there.
these is my films. >> you're contemptible. i mean this, not for the camera, i'd like for you to get out of here. >> kroft: for a few years, they were staples on "60 minutes." >> i hope you got it and i hope you have the guts to use it. >> kroft: if you had so much fun, and the audience loved it, why did you stop doing it? >> wallace: because it became a caricature of itself. and we realized we weren't getting information, we were getting drama. >> kroft: mike, you have something against drama? >> wallace: oh, no. but if it is legitimate drama, if you really are after... by asking a tough question, or a difficult question-- nothing wrong with it. because you're in search of the truth, you hope. accuracy, understanding. but to do it just to make somebody look like a fool or embarrass them or whatever, after a while, uh-uh. all right. >> kroft: over the years, mike developed his own special shorthand vocabulary for dragging information out of people. you have a couple of stock phrases.
"come on." >> wallace: come on. come on. come on. oh, come on! come on! >> kroft: "look." like, look! >> wallace: look. look. look! >> wallace: you don't do it on purpose; it's in conversation. >> kroft: "forgive me." >> wallace: forgive me. forgive me. forgive me. >> kroft: in mike-speak, "forgive me" always meant a really nasty question was coming. here's the famous encounter during the iranian hostage crisis in 1979 when mike asked the ayatollah khomeini if he was nuts. >> wallace: imam, president sadat of egypt says what you are doing now is "a disgrace to islam." and he calls you, imam-- forgive me, his words, not mine-- a "lunatic." i figured, what the hell are they going to do, make me a hostage, too, if i ask... >> kroft: put you in prison. >> wallace: yeah. that's... yes, what i heard president sadat say.
the guy that was translating, he looked over at me and said, "you're the lunatic if you think i'm going to translate that question to the ayatollah." and he used the word, "a lunatic." >> ayatollah: sadat... >> wallace: and it got the ayatollah's attention for the first time. >> kroft: but the classic mike question, or non-question, is the damning list of white house crimes he read to presidential aide john ehrlichman in 1973 at the height of the watergate scandal. >> wallace: "laundering money in mexico. payoffs to silence witnesses. perjury. plans to audit tax returns for political retaliation. theft of psychiatric records. spying by undercover agents. conspiracy to obstruct justice." all of this by the law-and-order administration of richard nixon.
>> john ehrlichman: is there a question in there somewhere? >> wallace: no. >> kroft: did you ask a follow- up? >> wallace: you didn't need to. what you've done is the bill of particulars about the law and order of richard nixon. >> kroft: and a plea of no contest. >> wallace: that's basically, that's correct. >> tina turner: you just remember one thing, in our first meeting. you must be good to me. >> wallace: why would i be otherwise? >> kroft: in many ways, tina turner's gentle plea to mike before their interview a dozen years ago spoke volumes about his talents and his reputation. he was nice to her. but soon, he went right back to his not-so-nice ways, here with charlton heston. >> wallace: it sounds to me a little bit like the language of the quintessential, forgive me, nut-case right wing zealot. >> kroft: in the spirit of fair play, we asked mike a final classic mike question: this is what some people say about you. >> wallace: uh-huh. >> kroft: that you're a grandstander. that you're the most important person in the story. that you're more important than the story, sometimes. that you're egotistical,
occasionally cruel. and for many people, well- mannered people, the embodiment of everything that they hate about reporters. >> wallace: i've got to plead guilty, i suppose. you know, but it comes with the territory, or it certainly has come with my territory. hello, it is i your boss. great news! the video call went very very well. asia is on board. too bad you couldn't participate. probably you were worried about overages on that limited data plan you use. perhaps you shouldn't have uploaded so many vacation photos. ooh. ah. these shorts are for a younger person, wouldn't you say. [ male announcer ] why limit your iphone? switch to sprint, the only network with truly unlimited data for your iphone. mid grade truly unlimited data dark roast forest fresh full tank brain freeze cake donettes rolling hot dogs bag of ice anti-freeze
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>> pelley: mike helped create "60 minutes" in 1968 at the age of 50. no one could have known that he was just starting the biggest part of his career and launching, with don hewitt, the most successful program in the history of prime time television. his interviews were like no others-- interviews that, he once told ed bradley, were based on one simple idea. >> wallace: let's ask the questions that might be on the minds of the people looking in. they would love to feel that. "if i were there in that chair where wallace is, here's what i would want to know." who wants to kill you? what the dickens are you doing? mr. ferguson, it's quite apparent that something's going on there. >> pelley: he went after politicians... >> wallace: why'd you take the money? >> my taking the money had nothing to do with the legislation. >> wallace: i mean, you're a crook. >> pelley: ...and hoods... >> wallace: and a murderer. >> that's what they say. dog gone, i wish they didn't say that, though. >> wallace: question? >> pelley: ...dictators, like panama's manuel noriega...
>> wallace: how much do you make? hard question. simple question. >> pelley: ...even movie legends, like bette davis... >> wallace: it may just have been that you were difficult, bette. >> bette davis: no, no, no, no. >> wallace: not difficult, impossible. >> pelley: he was, in fact, the heart and soul of this broadcast, showing us all time and again how it's done. >> wallace: you don't trust the media-- you've said so. you don't trust whites-- you've said so. you don't trust jews-- you've said so. well, here i am. >> pelley: his encounter with nation of islam leader louis farrakhan was classic mike. >> louis farrakhan: so what?! >> pelley: straight talk, no nonsense, and fireworks when the subject turned to corruption in nigeria. >> farrakhan: no, i will not allow america or you, mr. wallace, to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on earth. how dare you put yourself in that position as a moral judge?! i think you should keep quiet.
i didn't mean to be so fired up. >> wallace: no, no. that was good. that was good. >> pelley: by our rough count, since the birth of this broadcast, mike did over 800 reports involving literally thousands of interviews, from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. >> wallace: can i take you back to november 22 in 1963? >> pelley: in terms of power and poignancy, his interview with former secret service agent clint hill has no equal. that's hill, climbing aboard president kennedy's car in dallas, risking his own life seconds after the president was shot. for years, hill blamed himself for kennedy's death, and he talked about it publicly for the first time with mike. >> clint hill: it was my fault. >> wallace: oh. no one has ever suggested that for an instant. what you did was show great bravery and great presence of mind.
what was on the citation that was given you for your work on november 22, 1963? >> hill: i don't care about that, mike. >> wallace: "extraordinary courage and heroic effort in the face of maximum danger." >> hill: mike, i don't care about that. if i had reacted just a little bit quicker... and i could have, i guess. and i'll live with that to my grave. >> ronald reagan: i came here with the belief... >> pelley: mike interviewed his friends the reagans many times. >> wallace: why hasn't this job weighed as heavily on you as it has on some other occupants of this oval office? >> reagan: well, mike, i don't know what the answer to that would be. well, maybe none of them had a nancy. >> pelley: reporting on them from the sunny days at the california ranch to the white house to the long goodbye. >> wallace: do you think he knows you still? >> nancy reagan: i don't know. >> wallace: have you said good- bye?
>> nancy reagan: no. not really. he's there. he's there. >> wallace: so you think that next time around... >> pelley: mike was at it so long, he'd interviewed presidents and first ladies going all the way back to eleanor roosevelt in the '50s. >> wallace: a good many people hated your husband. they even hated you. >> eleanor roosevelt: oh, yes. a great many do still. >> pelley: matter of fact, you can take any historic moment in recent decades and there, somewhere in the frame-- like forrest gump or woody allen's character zelig... >> oh, they've shoved mike down. >> pelley: ...you'll usually find mike. >> they sure gave you a rough shove. >> wallace: i'm fine. in our studios in chicago is dr. martin luther king. >> pelley: in the 1960s alone, he interviewed martin luther king, jr., j.f.k., and malcolm x
who, months before his death, confessed to mike his fear that his enemies in the black muslim movement were plotting his assassination. >> wallace: are you not perhaps afraid of what might happen to you as a result of making these revelations? >> malcolm x: oh, yes. i probably am a dead man already. >> pelley: he roamed the world in search of provocative interviews. >> wallace: the israelis could be persuaded. >> pelley: in the mideast alone, he spoke to golda meir, menachem begin, the shah of iran, and seven different times over the years... >> yasir arafat: me? >> wallace: yes, you. >> pelley: ...yasir arafat. >> wallace: mr. chairman, there are palestinians who would like to kill you. >> arafat: maybe they are opposing me. but not to kill me. >> wallace: where do you inject it? >> jose canseco: into your gluteus maximus, which is your butt muscle. >> wallace: your butt muscle. >> pelley: for years, mike's unerring instinct for the hot- button topic sunday night had america buzzing on monday morning. >> wallace: what you are saying is that the national pastime... >> canseco: national pastime is juiced? >> wallace: ...is juiced. >> canseco: yeah, it is. >> pelley: his interview with
jose canseco led congress to investigate steroid use in major league baseball. >> wallace: you think that people are going to believe you? >> pelley: a topic he revisited with roger clemens. >> roger clemens: 24, 25 years, mike, you think i'd get an inch of respect. an inch. how can you prove your innocence? >> wallace: apparently, you haven't done it yet. and this? >> pelley: and another controversial newsmaker-- "dr. death," jack kevorkian-- went to prison after giving mike this tape. >> jack kevorkian: we're going to inject in your right arm. >> pelley: it shows kevorkian administering a lethal injection to a gravely ill patient who wanted to die. >> wallace: is he dead now? >> kevorkian: he's dying now. >> wallace: there is something almost ghoulish in your desire to see the deed done. >> kevorkian: it appears that way to you-- i can't criticize you for that. but the main point is the last part of your statement-- that the deed be done. >> pelley: but the most shocking interview mike ever did is surely the one with vietnam veteran paul meadlo on "60 minutes" in 1969.
>> paul meadlo: i might have killed about ten, 15 of them. >> pelley: meadlo confessed his role in the my lai massacre, the vietnam atrocity by american troops that appalled the nation. even mike was surprised, as he told our late colleague, ed bradley. >> wallace: how in the world do you shoot babies? why in the world... i asked him? how do you shoot babies? >> meadlo: i don't know, just one of them things. >> wallace: "just one of them things." >> pelley: and 30 years later, mike went back to my lai with hugh thompson and larry colburn, the two soldiers who put a stop to the massacre. >> wallace: she wants to meet mr. thompson. well, here is mr. thompson. and it was such a moving experience, to see the people who had heard about them. astonishing what you learn and feel and see along the way. a reporter's job, as you know, is such a joy.
>> stahl: when you think of mike, you think of him barging in on bureaucrats and bad guys, loaded for bear. but over the years some of his most memorable interviews were with entertainers. it was just a couple of years ago we sat down with mike to screen some of his greatest show-biz hits. beginning with an example of almost every interviewer's nightmare-- a performer so quick and so funny that, right from the start, you're not sure who's interviewing whom. in this case, it's mike and mel brooks. >> wallace: tell me something. the show... >> mel brooks: watch? let me see that watch. >> wallace: it's about a $40 watch. >> brooks: really? >> wallace: yeah. lights up in the dark. >> brooks: what a cheap son of a bitch you are. >> wallace: you got that right. you're a great judge of character. >> brooks: yeah. >> wallace: tell me this... >> brooks: what did you pay for your jacket? >> wallace: i don't know. this... this is hopsack.
>> brooks: hopsack is like fancy burlap, right? >> wallace: that's exactly right. that's exactly right. >> brooks: it's like burlap shrunk down. do you know that, six months ago that your jacket carried coffee beans? do you realize that? wait a minute. he reeks of colombian coffee, i got to tell you. >> stahl: he's completely hijacked your interview. clearly. >> wallace: good. that's not hijacking an interview. >> stahl: you didn't think, "oh, my god, i'm out of control here"? >> wallace: oh, not for an instant. i was grateful to him for what he was doing. >> brooks: make a noise! >> stahl: over the years, he has matched wits with the best that broadway, hollywood and the music world have to offer: longhairs from leonard bernstein to luciano pavarotti. and divas of all stripes, from janis joplin to julie andrews to oprah. >> wallace: god. >> oprah winfrey: god, yeah. >> wallace: important to you? >> winfrey: oh, yeah. i love her. ( laughs ) i do! >> kirk douglas: come on, mike. >> stahl: here he is with actor
kirk douglas in 1992. >> wallace: you had a reputation as a real horse's behind. even your own kids said that you were very difficult. >> douglas: they didn't say i was a horse's ass, did they? >> wallace: no, they did not. >> stahl: who besides mike wallace would start an interview by saying, "people say you're a horse's behind?" i mean, wow. >> wallace: they know who i am and what kind of questions i might... >> stahl: they've walked into the den. >> wallace: oh, absolutely. >> stahl: and they know it. >> wallace: why do they do it? >> stahl: they think they can beat you. >> wallace: that's correct. >> stahl: not many did. mike got to hang out with johnny carson in 1979 for carson's only in-depth television profile. >> johnny carson: why are you doing this now? i'm not running a boiler room operation, i have no phony real estate scams, i'm not taking any kickbacks... >> stahl: it was pleasant and innocuous enough, until carson mentioned his rule about never joking on "the tonight show" about people's drinking problems. >> wallace: it takes one to know one.
>> carson: ah! cruel, you're cruel. >> wallace: there was a time... come on. there was a time when... >> carson: i used to have a little pop. i sure did. >> wallace: that's right. >> carson: i don't handle it well. >> wallace: really, you don't? >> carson: i don't handle alcohol well at all, no. really don't. and when i did drink, i ran into a lot of people who become fun- loving and gregarious and loved everybody, i would go the opposite, and it would happen just like that. >> wallace: i loved that man. i really did. >> carson: he wasn't upset with this interview? >> wallace: no, no, he loved it. and of course, the one thing that he did not like was that i beat him at tennis. that was very important to him. >> stahl: he was competitive. >> carson: what are you waiting for, your pacemaker to start? i think it's got to kick in just about when you serve. >> stahl: the chemistry between mike and his interview subjects was sometimes complicated. >> wallace: you would love to control this piece. >> barbra streisand: absolutely. are you kidding? ( laughs )
>> stahl: he first met barbra streisand in the 1960s, when she was a guest on a talk show he hosted. three decades later on "60 minutes," they crossed swords in one of mike's most controversial interviews. >> wallace: i really didn't like you back 30 years ago. and i don't think you liked me, either. >> streisand: i thought you were mean. i thought you were very mean. >> wallace: you know something? 20 or 30 years of psychoanalysis. i say to myself, what is it that she's trying to find out that takes 20 to 30 years? >> streisand: i'm a slow learner. and why do you sound so accusatory, too? >> wallace: i'm not accusing. >> streisand: are you against psychotherapy? >> stahl: and then, there's shirley maclaine. she got the full wallace treatment in 1984. >> wallace: you really believe that you lived lives before. >> shirley maclaine: oh, yes, mike. i do, there's no doubt in my mind about it. >> wallace: and you really believe in extraterrestrial... how, do they come visit you on the porch?
"now you're being unpleasant, wallace," is what you're saying. >> maclaine: yes. this is what i was a little afraid of. but you don't have to be that unpleasant. it doesn't become you, you know? >> stahl: but dare we say it-- in his old age, a side of mike emerged that was positively paternal. here he is with actress hilary swank, whose rise to the top in hollywood is a story to soften the heart of even the toughest old crank. >> hilary swank: my mom said to me that i could do anything that i wanted in life as long as i worked hard enough. and to this day it still makes me... really emotional. >> wallace: yup. >> swank: because... i just never questioned it, you know? she just always believed in me. >> wallace: she was the genuine article. >> stahl: but his all-time favorite interview-- not just among the performers, but of all of them-- was with piano virtuoso vladimir horowitz in 1977.
>> wallace: i was in awe of this guy. ( applause ) he comes into the orchestra hall in chicago. and i say, "oh, maestro." "mike wallace! i watch you every sunday night!" come on. you know what i'm going to ask you? >> vladimir horowitz: yes, i know because they ask me all the time. >> wallace: and when i asked him to play what he had played in central park in 1945, "the stars and stripes forever..." >> horowitz: no, i forgot that! >> wallace: you... come on, you haven't forgotten. > horowitz: i tell you i don't know it! >> wallace ( mimicking ): i don't know, how, i don't, forget it... he was going. >> horowitz: i have to remember, it's too difficult! >> wallace: and his wife wanda said, "play it." >> wanda horowitz: go on from there. >> wallace: and he did. >> ( playing "the stars and stripes forever" )
>> stahl: why was that your favorite? why? because you were... >> wallace: because you got the unvarnished-- this was the first time he had ever done anything like this. playing "the stars and stripes forever" ) >> stahl: we thought of another reason. because, in a lot of ways, vladimir horowitz was just like mike wallace-- brilliant, temperamental, a holy terror. >> horowitz: ( laughs ) >> stahl: when horowitz was growing up in russia, people who heard his astonishing playing thought he was possessed by the devil. just... >> wallace: rolling? >> stahl: ...like mike. >> wallace: now, wait just a moment! come on, god damn it, mike! get out of the way, will you please, kid! ( laughter ) [ female announcer ] dry rough strawlike hair needs extra nourishment to feel silky soft.
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>> safer: when mike wallace was born 93 years ago in brookline, massachusetts, he was named myron, a name he never really liked. and as soon as he could, he changed it to what he felt was the punchier "mike," and he spent the best part of a century living up to that combative moniker. as you've seen, our tribute has consisted of equal parts roast and testimonial. since i've known him, shared a great deal with him, and even fought with him longer than anybody else still around "60 minutes," it falls to me to add a little armchair analysis. it's not easy to figure out a friend at a time like this, a man who, at times, was as decent a person as anyone would want to know, and at times... well,
something else. >> wallace: hello. when did you get back from tehran? >> safer: do you feel that it's time to maybe pack it in and reflect or... >> wallace: reflect about what? >> safer: whatever. >> wallace: give me a break. reflect... what am i going to reflect about? >> safer: we knew it would not be easy trying to get him to reflect on his life and times, his legacy and all that. >> wallace: how do you do, sir? >> safer: reflection was never mike's long suit. >> wallace: all right, here we go. >> safer: he liked to work and argue. >> wallace: what really gets andy rooney worked up? he's about to tell you. >> let's do that again! >> wallace: why? why? that was good! just hold it a minute, god damn it! >> safer: this famous footage is of mike arguing with don hewitt, the man who dreamed up "60 minutes." >> wallace: you're gutting the piece. >> don hewitt: forget "60 minutes." you don't get on this week.
>> safer: though their dustups were by far the loudest, mike and i also had our moments. >> wallace: i mean, we were colleagues and competitors at the same time. when i wanted to do a story, and you wanted to do a story, and it's the same story... >> safer: and i come into the office the next day, you're out of town doing the story. ( laughter ) it's been a very bumpy and satisfying road, though. >> wallace: that's exactly right. >> safer: truth be told, mike's story-- myron's story-- is of the road not taken. if his parents had their way, young myron probably would have become just what the world needed, one more lawyer. were you a good kid? were you a hell raiser? what? >> wallace: i was a pretty good kid. i was an overachiever. i worked very hard. played a hell of a fiddle. >> wallace: grades are coming out soon. >> safer: in college, he got interested in radio. and soon after, in 1941, he reached a kind of pinnacle-- announcer on "the green hornet."
>> wallace: ride with britt reed as he races to another thrilling adventure! "the green hornet" strikes again! >> safer: and that was that. no lawyer for the wallaces. >> wallace: whatever myron wanted to do, myron was going to do. hello! i'm mike wallace with real news. ♪ ♪ >> susie: myron-- mike-- went on to do all kinds of early television, from variety shows to commercials... >> wallace: it's proctor and gamble's golden fluffo. darling, at this point in our lives... >> safer: ...from talk to soap. >> wallace: 'cause i got it made. it was fine, it was honest work. but i was not especially proud of it. >> safer: and then, in 1962, an event that would change his life. while sightseeing on a mountaintop in greece, mike's 19-year-old son peter was killed.
>> wallace: and we went over and found him. he had fallen off a cliff. he... you know, what can you say? he was a glorious young man. the... >> safer: i cannot think of anything worse... >> wallace: oh, yeah. >> safer: ... than losing a child. i mean, we are programmed so that they will outlive us. >> wallace: mm-hmm. that's right. >> safer: to honor peter's memory, mike decided to concentrate on more meaningful work. >> wallace: mike wallace at large on the cbs radio network. >> safer: cbs news became his professional home... >> "60 minutes," volume one, number one. >> safer: ...where he labored in the late 1960s and early '70s on a broadcast not too many people watched. i'm morley safer. >> wallace: i'm mike wallace. >> safer: "60 minutes," the early years. >> wallace: we finished regularly 85 out of 100 shows and so forth. but we got our act together
during those years. we'll also be switching to san diego where the crew of the "pueblo" is enjoying a christmas eve reunion with their families. >> safer: it was spring training. >> wallace: that's exactly right. i'm mike wallace. i'm mike wallace. >> safer: the rest, as they say, is history. >> wallace: i'm mike wallace. >> safer: on screen, of course, there was little evidence of the toll taken by the brutal hours and the arguments and the hundreds upon hundreds of airplane flights and hotel rooms. >> sir, do you have some piece of identification? >> safer: but like all of us, mike did not escape untouched. he passed out on a plane some years ago. doctors implanted a pacemaker, and monitored his heart by long distance. over the years, he became involved in some major embarrassments for cbs. >> wallace: what you're charging brown & williamson with... >> safer: there was his interview with whistleblower jeffrey wigand, who charged that, despite its denials, the tobacco industry had known for
years how harmful cigarettes were. >> jeffrey wigand: it's a delivery device for nicotine. >> wallace: "a delivery device for nicotine." put it in your mouth, light it up, and you're going to get your fix. >> wigand: get your fix. >> safer: cbs management first refused to air the interview. by the time it finally did run, the network had a very public black eye. but it was a lawsuit over a vietnam documentary that literally took him to the edge. >> william westmoreland: and the facts prove that i was right. now, let's stop it. >> wallace: all right, sir. >> safer: general william westmoreland sued mike and cbs for reporting that westmoreland had deliberately falsified estimates of enemy troop strength in vietnam. the suit was eventually dropped, and mike talked many times about the deep depression that descended on him during the trial. what he did not talk about was something a few of us always
suspected. did you try to commit suicide at one point? >> wallace: uh, i've never said this before. yeah, i tried. i don't know why the hell you asked me that question because i... other people have and i've... it's the first time i've answered it honestly. i wrote a note. and mary found it. and she found the pills that i was taking on the floor. i was asleep. >> safer: that was more than 25 years ago. mike's wife mary got him through it. and those intervening years were some of the most productive in his career. you've since become a kind of poster boy for dealing with depression.
>> wallace: yes, i have. depression can be treated. >> safer: and he pulled no punches about his own depression in his memoirs. >> thank you very much. ( applause ) >> safer: and there were only so many awards to be had. as for retirement? that was never an option. >> wallace: i've always thought, you know, what the dickens would i do? you paint. you write. you do all kinds of things. i don't. i... i work. >> safer: "i work." that, in a way, summed up mike's life-- a restless man always chasing the next story, ready to tweak his next victim, even when the victim was himself. >> itzhak perlman: you're going to become a musician now, enough of this broadcasting stuff. >> safer: in preparation for his retirement, we took him to the violin virtuoso itzhak perlman,
whom mike once profiled, to see if there was a second career in the old war horse. >> perlman: let me see your bow grip. thumb a little bent. no, no, no, no, no. this is a real challenge. that's it. do you remember songs you played when you were a kid? >> wallace: "meditation" from thais. play it. come on. ♪ ♪ at christmas celebration, the whole family was there and they got on the old man to play "meditation" from thais. and i started to play it, and everybody began to laugh. >> perlman: ...cry. >> wallace: no, to laugh. i never have picked up the fiddle since. and you know what this morning has done this? i am never going to pick up the fiddle again. ( laughter ) >> this special tribute to mike wallace continues in a moment.
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>> safer: a few years back, in what turned out to be mike's last taped interview, he talked with his grandson, eames yates. as you'll see, mike was relaxed and, as always, very candid. >> wallace: 1957, for some reason, they decided to do a cover. i used to do a column here in new york in the "post." this... i was being taken off the floor at the 1968 democratic convention. and i said, like this, "what are you getting so excited about?" ( laughter ) to the cop. >> eames yates: oh, god. >> wallace: "you're under arrest." ( laughter ) i mean it. i grabbed him. >> yates: you've reached the highest level of success. what do you feel you've sacrificed to get to that position? >> wallace: i was more interested in my work than in my
family. >> yates: in the sense of, did you derive more happiness from work? >> wallace: apparently i did, yeah. >> yates: do you feel the same, aside from all the experiences that you've had, as you did when you were my age? >> wallace: well, when i was your age, and this colored my... i used to have a very bad case of acne. you wouldn't have believed what it used to be. as a result of which, i grew up with a kind of chip on my shoulder and a sense of inferiority. and i think that, to a certain degree, i tried to make up for that-- some of it good. i knew that i was going to have to work harder. that marked me. >> yates: so you're saying like kind of a lack of confidence made you so good? >> wallace: a lack of confidence made me work harder, yeah.
>> safer: no one ever questioned mike's work ethic. i think it's fair to say that this broadcast, this studio was his life. but fairly late in life, he found another passion, another home-- back where he started, at the university of michigan at ann arbor. here, myron wallace, class of 1939, first stepped before a microphone, and here there is a place that he founded called wallace house, a place where working journalists from around the country and the world can come to renew themselves, to study, to hone their craft, to better serve the public interest. >> journalism really does have the power to build up communities and make people understand each other better. >> it's just been an amazing... >> safer: "60 minutes" and wallace house-- not too bad a legacy for our old pal, for that cheeky kid from brookline. captioning funded by cbs, and ford--
built for the road ahead. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org after college, i moved back in with my parents. i was worried about 'em, you know? i mean for instance my mom went to bed tonight before making my dinner. which is fine, i mean i, i know how to make dinner. it just starts to make you wonder. is this what happens when you age? my friends used to say i was the lucky one. i had the fun parents. where's the fun now? night guys! [ sighs ] ♪ [ male announcer ] venza. from toyota. degree created an antiperspirant that's just as strong. degree clinical protection. up to three times the strength of a basic antiperspirant. degree clinical protection. unapologetically strong.
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